Purple People Bridge
Our state has a deficit and our fearless leaders….come up with schemes like this to use the peoples hard earned dollars? This is nothing more than payback……$650,000 for a study? If it were feasible…the private sector…would have already done this. A bridge that is unsafe for cars. Keene, a current congressman, who secured the funding…..is also paid $58000 annually as a consultant for Southbank! just more Kentucky road fund misuse….
What say you?………..
Purple People Bridge could spark 2nd economic renaissance
NEWPORT — In 1896, the second bridge linking Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati opened a new avenue for pedestrian and commercial traffic that gave both cities a transformational economic boost.
Today, Newport’s Purple People Bridge still carries pedestrian traffic over the Ohio River, but community leaders are hopeful a new engineering study will show it can once again become a commercial lifeline.
Newport has received $650,000 in state transportation funds to determine whether the 2,670-foot span can support a planned $100 million hotel, retail and entertainment development. In the coming months, engineers will inspect the bridge from top to bottom, even diving to the bottom of the river for an up-close look at the eight massive limestone pillars which support the bridge.
When that analysis is completed sometime next year, Northern Kentucky leaders hope it shows the structure can support the long-planned development, which would be the first of its kind in the nation.
“We want to find out what our strengths and our weaknesses are, and what the bridge will allow us to do,” said state Rep. Dennis Keene, D-Wilder, who helped secured the study funds in the state highway plan. “It’ll lay the framework for what the project will finally look like.”
Planners envision a railroad-themed development with 150,000 square feet of hotel, restaurant and retail space. An independent study by Northern Kentucky University has shown the project could create 1,000 jobs, Keene said. The project has been in the works for at least two years.
Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, who visited the bridge Friday to announce the funding, said it could provide a major economic boost to the entire region, should the engineering study determine the concept is viable.
“You have to tee up opportunities now that we’re coming out of this recession,” he said. “What this money is going to be used for is the engineering analysis about whether this is really doable.
“Nobody’s talking about spending $100 million or investing that kind of money tomorrow or the next day…But you’ve got to continue to move the ball forward, in the hopes that when this recession is over and when the economy becomes robust again, you’ve got an area that has the kind of vibrancy people want to live in, want to work in, and want to raise their families in,” Abramson said.
The bridge is owned by the nonprofit corporation The Southbank Bridge Co., a partnership between the city of Newport and Southbank Partners, an economic development agency dedicated to riverfront revitalization. Keene is paid $58,000 annually as an adviser to Southbank Partners. The city of Newport will administer and oversee the engineering study.
Known for much of its history as the L&N Bridge, the structure was the first span connecting Newport and Cincinnati, and just the second connecting Kentucky and Ohio; the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge had been built six years earlier.
In its early years, the bridge was both a commercial lifeline, carrying rail freight to and from Newport, and a cultural one: it ushered in the age of Northern Kentuckians commuting to Cincinnati for work and commerce, according to the Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky.
The bridges carried rail traffic until 1984 and vehicular traffic until 2001. The state planned to demolish the bridge, but Newport and Southbank Partners partnered the save the structure. More than $4 million in state funding was spent to save and restore the bridge, which reopened in 2003 to pedestrian traffic.
Today, the bridge is used year-round. It links the riverfront’s two major summer festival venues, Sawyer Point and Riverboat Row, and is a popular spot for runners, walkers, joggers and tourists. It also hosts private events, including the popular Wine Over Water fundraiser each September. If the hotel and retail development is built, officials say the bridge will remain open to public pedestrian traffic.
- Plans for hotel on Purple People Bridge (wcpo.com)